Who knew women wouldn't be lining up to sleep with a guy who hated women?
Many scholars found his books nearly unreadable, and many others considered them so drastically misguided in their substantive readings of the history of philosophy that he was often dismissed by fellow scholars as an eccentric or, worse, as a willful and distortive interpreter of the philosophic tradition.Burnyeat's takedown, Sphinx Without a Secret, published in 1985, was not the work of a political pundit, but of a respected scholar with a great reputation for his studies of the ancient philosophers Strauss taught about. He portrayed an almost cult-like intellectual surrender as part of Strauss's teaching technique.
Strauss asks—or commands—his students to start by accepting that any inclination they may have to disagree with Hobbes (Plato, Aristotle, Maimonides), any opinion contrary to his, is mistaken. They must suspend their own judgment, suspend even “modern thought as such,” until they understand their author “as he understood himself.” It is all too clear that this illusory goal will not be achieved by the end of the term. Abandon self all ye who enter here. The question is, to whom is the surrender made: to the text or to the teacher?This may explain why his followers were his students, not people who had simply read his books and agreed with them. Reading is an interpretive skill, and critical reading is a particularly valuable one. Pleasing the teacher is a social skill, and coming under his spell is a personal transformation.
The leading characters in Strauss’s writing are “the gentlemen”and “the philosopher.” “The gentlemen” come, preferably, from patrician urban backgrounds and have money without having to work too hard for it: they are not the wealthy as such, then, but those who have “had an opportunity to be brought up in the proper manner.” Strauss is scornful of mass education. “Liberal education is the necessary endeavor to found an aristocracy within democratic mass society. Liberal education reminds those members of a mass democracy who have ears to hear, of human greatness.” Such “gentlemen”are idealistic, devoted to virtuous ends, and sympathetic to philosophy. They are thus ready to be taken in hand by“the philosopher,” who will teach them the great lesson they need to learn before they join the governing elite.The name of this lesson is “the limits of politics.” Its content is that a just society is so improbable that one can do nothing to bring it about. In the 1960s this became: a just society is impossible. In either case the moral is that “the gentlemen” should rule conservatively, knowing that “the apparently just alternative to aristocracy open or disguised will be permanent revolution, i.e., permanent chaos in which life will be not only poor and short but brutish as well.”So who is “the philosopher,” and how does he know that this is the right lesson for “the gentlemen”? He is a wise man, who does not want to rule because his sights are set on higher things.Strauss might be called the Saint Simone of conservatism, in that his popularity among the elite seems to have had a lot to do with convincing them that society should be run by people like them, for its own good.
... “They abort their young children, they put their young men in jail, because they never learned how to pick cotton. And I’ve often wondered, are they better off as slaves...Who knew that someone who refuses to acknowledge the supremacy clause of the United States Constitution would harbor racist sentiments?
“I believe this is a sovereign state of Nevada,” Bundy said. “And I abide by all Nevada state laws. But I don’t recognize the United States government as even existing.”
“I only want to talk to one person in each county across the United States, and here’s what I want to say: County sheriffs, disarm U.S. bureaucracy. County sheriffs, disarm U.S. bureaucrats.”This talk is part of a philosophy that stemmed from the Civil War, Reconstruction, and the efforts to keep white power over blacks. The federal government isn't a bogyman because it's powerful, it's a bogyman because it uses its power to enforce the rights of people who aren't like Cliven Bundy. I don't think he's just a swindler who wants to graze his cattle for free, though that temptation might help shape his views. I think his entire philosophy starts with his racism, and goes on to condemn the federal government because it wants him and people like him to stop acting on their racism.